Super Squirrel Speaks!

Hello LEPmeisters! Laura (AKA Super Squirrel) here. Gather around folks, I have a little story to tell you:

Once there was a squirrel with superpowers. But with superpowers, there came great responsibility and one day...

SNNNOOORREEEEE...zzzzzzz....... Screw it, I'll just jump to the point:

I'm sad to announce that I've made the difficult decision to leave LEP and December will be my last month with the club. It's become increasingly difficult to juggle a full-time job and all the projects in my life, and in the interests of trying to achieve some balance, I need to scale back.

However, don't you worry: I'm leaving you in the very capable hands of Julie, and LEP will continue on without me. So YAY! You'll still have your trusted band of superhero penpals! Julie will have more info in the January issue of the newsletter about her plans for LEP and the changes that are in store for the new year.

A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you who has made my time with LEP so enjoyable. When Julie asked me to be her partner on this project, I had absolutely no idea how fantastic and awesome it would become. I've been touched by everyone's generosity and kindness, and I am genuinely thankful to have met such lovely, lovely people. Thank you for all the kind comments, the occasional surprise mail, and for all the laughs.

Thank you also to my partner, Super Sushi, for asking me to come on this ride with her. It's been a wild one, and I know you will have great fun with her at the helm.

But, I'll still be around! You can always email me at (ridiculous posts about the perfection of Tom Hiddleston are especially appreciated). And if you're partial to snail mail (GASP! When did that happen?!), you can send messages / postcards / "Dude, you still owe me $5" notes and similar / dinosaurs to:

PO Box 20153 RPO Beverly
Edmonton, AB T5W 5E6

Again, thanks for your support and awesomeness. And I'll see you in the mail, LEPmeisters! Doot doot da doot doot.... DOOT DOOT!

LEP review by The Baking Balloonatic

Today we'd like to share with you how one of our members sees The League of Extraordinary Penpals. We swear that we didn't pay her, bribe her with stationery or promise rides on our rainbow unicorn to write this review. We just asked nicely!

So here's what Millie in Alaska (AKA The Baking Balloonatic) has to say about LEP:

In these days of social media, smart phones, tablets, and technology, one would think that a good, old-fashioned letter is something of a relic of a bygone era.

Or is it?

What if there were a way to combine the two? With a simple web search, finding people to write letters with is as easy as typing a few keystrokes into your favorite search engine. Many of the groups available to write letters are using social media to connect with one another and make new friends. Some are paid, some are free, but all have their own blend of people with interests as varied as their names.

One such group, the League of Extraordinary Penpals (or "LEP" as it is called by its members) is a paid group with over 200 members. The dues are reasonable and becoming a member allows access to a monthly newsletter that includes mail swap challenges (or "swallenges" as they're called), stationery offers, and a spotlight on a random member. It also offers access to an exclusive Facebook community where members can ask for new penpals, request help on a variety of subjects (from where to get new stationery or pens, crochet help, or even where to get some candy to try out).

One of the wonderful things about this group is that the admins are very personable, friendly, and are always willing to answer any questions in a positive and helpful manner. As a member, you are welcomed into a community of Trekkies, Whovians, moms, twenty-somethings, typewriter enthusiasts, and more. It is a place where anyone can feel at ease in this sometimes cold world of the Internet. By being a part of the LEP, you gain access to new friends, new penpals, and an entire new world of washi tape, typewriters, costumes, and alter egos.

Take a break from the cold world of email and send a letter. Your mail carrier will thank you, as will those whose lives you touch from afar.

Back to School Sale!

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't... But we took a little break from blogging during the summer! Yes, we did. But that doesn't mean we were lazy and spent our whole days eating popsicles in the pool!

In fact, it's quite the opposite - we stayed pretty busy here at LEP Headquarters. You just couldn't see it on the blog... Except of course for those LEP members who have the amazing superpower of seeing through the screen. And if you do, please don't tell anyone that Super Squirrel always wears unicorn pajamas and that Super Sushi likes to work in her zebra print bathrobe. Thanks. After all, we have reputations to keep...

Anyway, we decided it was finally time to come out of hiding today to celebrate back to school with you in a very special way! Everyone who writes letters likes the back to school season, because it means that office supplies are on sale everywhere! Did you score a few pens, or some pretty notebooks maybe?

Now it's time for some letter writing supplies! And we have just what you need right here: LEP stationery sets! More specifically: unlined stationery sets. We actually have a big stack of unlined stationery sets waiting to be purchased by you. They're looking for new homes because they don't like the way we've been treating them lately. Please consider adopting a set or two! They're 50% off... And they all have names. When you buy a set during the back to school sale, you'll not only get a LEP membership card, you'll also get a card that states what your stationery set is named! Isn't that fantastic?! Yep, we think so too.

Unlined stationery

Every kit includes 25 sheets of writing paper that is fountain pen friendly. Each sheet is 5.25" x 8.25" or 135mm x 205mm (A5 size) and is thick enough for you to write on both sides if you wish to do so.

Every stationery order comes with a free membership card! And a free name card for your stationery! Yes, we are slightly crazy! (Just like our Australian friends...)

Available while supplies last!


Super Sushi's turn!

Now that we know why Super Squirrel and some of our members penpal, let's see what Super Sushi has to say about this!

"Why do I penpal? To me, friendship is one of the most important things in life. And although I've been blessed with a good number of wonderful friends that I get to spend quality face to face time with on a regular basis, letter writing can take friendships to a whole new level. With a pen and paper in hand and all the time in the world to define my thoughts, it's enjoyable for me to be even more introspective and share my feelings with my friends.

I'm a very open person and I'm becoming less and less introverted as the years go by so I'm more at ease to be completely myself with others now, but this wasn't always the case. When I was younger, having penpals was a way for me to test the waters and meet other open-minded people who wouldn't judge me for who I was. Now that I'm more comfortable with myself, it's no longer a need I have, but meeting awesome people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world is still something that fascinates me! Discovering someone's life, habits, thoughts, feelings and dreams makes me feel close to them and opens my mind to new possibilities. Learning about new cultures or beliefs is pretty fun too!

Even though the friendships are really what I'm in it for, I have to admit that I've always loved stationery, so the opportunity to use pretty pens and papers, to send and receive mail art as well as to be creative is also fantastic. I have amazing penpals and I love every single one of them!"
- Julie, AKA Super Sushi

Super Squirrel Speaks!

Last week we asked our members a very simple question:

Why do you penpal?

We've heard from our members, now it's Super Squirrel's turn to share why she penpals!

"When non-snail mailers ask why I write letters, I often reply that I penpal because I like getting mail that isn't a bill or a flyer. That's my most superficial reason for penpalling and the easiest for people to understand if they don't write letters themselves.

The real reason I penpal is because of the connection, the friendship. I live in a city that very much makes me feel like a fish out of water. It's difficult finding people who like the things that I do, and like them the way (ie: to the same degree) that I do. But because of penpalling, I've been able to find people who see the world the same way I do. Penpalling allows me to connect with kindred spirits and bond over shared geek loves.

I also prefer writing as a method of communication. I'm a huge introvert, a total wallflower, and it's difficult for me to talk to people that I'm not 100% comfortable with. Words just refuse to come to me. But when it comes to letter writing, I can take the time to think about my words and how I want to convey my thoughts. It also saves me from saying something ridiculous that I will regret later, and from being interrupted and talked over by others. In other words, letter writing gives me a voice and a medium to be myself that I wouldn't otherwise have."
- Laura, AKA Super Squirrel

Why do you penpal?

We asked some of our members the following question, and this is what they had to say!

Why do you penpal?

"I pen pal for a few reasons. As a small child, my great grandparents wrote to me often and I'd draw pictures and write back to them. I loved getting my own mail as a child. After high school it was a way to keep in touch with friends, but after the social media sites appeared, many of us stopped writing. Sadly its how we've mostly lost touch, even if they're on my friends list, we don't talk much now. I still enjoy receiving mail that isn't a bill, or local store ad. That's how I discovered pen pal websites and eventually that all led me here to LEP. :) I also love getting to know people from far away that I probably wouldn't have met any other way. Now I have a stationery addiction and my husband says that I stalk the mailman, but that's part of the fun, right?? :)"
-Natasha, AKA Super Weasel (USA)

"I penpal for the same reason everyone does, don't they? It's an excuse to collect cute paper, stamps and stickers! Seriously though, it's interesting to be asked that, as I'm just starting out in penpalling again after an absence of over 20 years. When I was a kid, I loved receiving something that had been in the hands of another kid from the other side of the world - someone I may have had a lot in common with, or someone who was living a life very different to mine. I loved reading about these real people whose lives weren't in books or on TV. After years of interacting with people on the Internet, I've found myself becoming dissatisfied with how shallow and one-sided friendships can be now. These days making friends with people from all over the world is easy and commonplace. Sure, I can email someone and it arrives instantly, or I can read their Facebook to see what they've been up to, but the magic is gone. The ease and instant gratification seem to have lessened the meaning behind it. That's why I decided to take up penpalling again. I want to have friendships where I respect the person enough, to take the time to choose paper and pen, write out my letter by hand and physically take it to a post box. And it makes me feel honoured to think that someone else has done the same for me."
- Katie, AKA Apartment Cat (Australia) 

"I penpal for a few reasons:
a) to keep in touch with old friends who have moved elsewhere
b) to keep in touch with new friends that I've only met through penpalling
c) because I have an addiction to cute stationery
d) I get work delivered to home, so it's nice to get things that aren't work related. 
e) to be friends with people with similar interests and viewpoints"
- Rebecca, AKA SullenHearts (UK)

"I pen pal because I enjoy the friendships formed through snail mail. Sometimes it's easier to write down my thoughts and feelings on paper rather than speak of them verbally. I enjoy sharing a little piece of myself with someone else and I enjoy the thrill of getting a return letter and I enjoy sitting down with a cup of tea and reading of my friend's life and share with them their triumphs and struggles. I feel because I put forth the effort to write to someone, it makes me a better friend to those whom I see all the time."
- Tracey, AKA Unicorn Girl (USA)

"Why do I penpal? I find I can organize my thoughts best when I write. I can take my time to formulate sentences and find the right words. I like the slow depth of writing, the unhurried pace of contemplation. Also, I like building friendships with people I wouldn't otherwise meet -- people all over the world! And of course the heart-jumping excitement of finding a special letter just for me in the mailbox. Lord Byron really did say it best: "Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company." Yes, it's pretty special."
- Bonnie, AKA Bonstar (Canada)

"Why do I penpal? This is an interesting question. The truth is I have always loved receiving letters and postcards, when I was child I had some friends who only came to my village on holidays, the rest of the year we wrote each other long letters. I still remember how excited I was when the postman gave me my letters, it was a magical moment. On the other hand, I love stationery things, I become crazy when I visit other countries and I see the beautiful things that they have in their stationery shops (in Spain there isn’t many). For both reasons, and because I live now far from my family and boyfriend (I feel very alone sometimes), when I knew about Postcrossing first and then about LEP, I have decided to return to writing letters and meeting new people from over the world. See you soon!!"
- Verónica, AKA Sailor Ver (Spain)

"I like pen palling as I like to know about people. I am naturally nosey and I like to hear about what you have been up to and the stories you have to tell. I like to know that people do the same things as me, see things like I do and if not also get a whole different perspective on someone else's life. Writing is also very therapeutic. You can get completely lost reading and replying to a letter and being able to share things with people you know will appreciate it and that you will get the same back is very special."
- Emma, AKA Data Girl (UK)

"This is such a good question! And really, there are so many answers. When I was younger, I had a couple penpals here and there, and I loved getting letters in the mail! Then, as I got older, the travel bug hit me, and I am fascinated with new places in the world. I have "met" so many interesting new friends because of penpalling, and I consider these ladies to be friends just the same as the ones I can call on the phone. In fact, there is something more special about getting a letter in the mailbox than picking up the phone to make a call or send a text. I have met only one of my penpals, but I hope in the future that changes. Penpalling is important to me, and I hope to continue for many years to come!"
- Georgette, AKA The Valiant Android (USA) 

"I started penpalling when I was 7yo. I grew up on a farm so didn't have much interraction with other kids my age, plus I was super shy and not very good at making friends. My nanna thought writing letters might be a good way for me to establish friendships with other kids around my age. My first penpal was the same age and also lived on a farm. Her name is Karyn, and we are still friends. What I discovered pretty quickly is that writing is my preferred method of communication. It gives me time to think out and clarify what it is I want to say. It also makes me feel as though I'm being listened to, that someone is interested in what I have to say everytime they reply. I'm not being interrupted and I don't have to worry about saying something stupid. I can write about shared interests with people and establish long-lasting friends with those who understand and appreciate how I think, why I like what I like, and how I see the world. Actually, that's my favourite thing about penpalling: Finding kindred spirits. In "real life" they are hard to come by, but in the world of penpalling I've found many. Some of my longest, bestest friends EVER started out as penpals. As someone who is introverted and shy, I'd probably feel incredibly lonely if I didn't have all my wonderful pals."
- Sarah, AKA Mesmer (Australia)

"I started to pen pal when I was fifteen years old. Originally, I started so I could talk to others who were anime/manga fans. Since I lived in a small town that didn't have many anime fans and I wanted to be associated with others who shared my interests. As I got older I fell in love with receiving mail so I expanded outside anime pen pals. Which is good since like much of my original pals, I have mostly outgrown anime. I still pen pal because it's my preferred method of social interaction. I'm not a social butterfly, opting to spend time in small groups or at home rather than going out. So talking to others in letters makes me feel more social than I really am (lame right?) also it's nice to be able to occasionally vent in a letter without judgement."
- Reannon, AKA Sweet Trap (Canada)

"Ever since I can remember I’ve had a thing for stationery, postcards, paper, pens, stickers etc. Doesn’t every little girl? My daughters did but they outgrew it. I never did. I’ve also always loved the thought of getting mail. The anticipation of waiting for the mailman, hearing the mail truck on the next street over and the excitement of finding something delivered to me. Something fun that someone else somewhere around the world took the time to send me. But it’s not just about the goodies and finding things other than junk in the mailbox. I’ve always been a little awkward socially. I have a hard time making friends and just talking to people sometimes. I’m your typical wallflower. The girl sitting in the corner at the party talking to the person she came with and observing all that’s going on around her wishing she had the nerve to participate. Pen paling gives me the chance to participate. Even if “hiding” behind pen and paper. It gives me a way to connect with people in a way I don’t always feel comfortable with in real life. It gives me the chance to meet people I would probably never have come in contact with otherwise... or talked to if I did! It still may take a letter or two for me to “come out of my shell” so hopefully people I’ve written to so far haven’t found me too boring to start out and will give me a chance. So glad I found LEP and hope I can make some lasting friendships along the way!"
- Lynn, AKA Eagle Eyes (USA)

"I enjoy sending and receiving letters because I love to connect and get to know different people and places! There is nothing like coming home and finding a letter from a penpal on the door mat, opening it up (carefully obviously!) and getting a snapshot of people's lives and what they are sharing!"
- Kelly, AKA Miss Dotty (UK)

"I really enjoy getting to know people on a one-to-one basis, and you learn so much pretty quickly about what another person thinks and feels when you communicate through writing. Unlike with verbal communication, I can read and re-read my letters, and I can take my time to think through what I want to say before writing my responses, eliminating some of the awkwardness of the immediacy of conversation. I'm also a little shy and reserved when first meeting people in person, and meeting someone through writing actually eliminates most of the shyness. I do still find those intro letters pretty difficult to write -- kind of like creating a dating profile, only for pen friendship instead of romance. The connection with my penpals definitely makes my life better. Plus, there's such a rush of happiness when you find a letter from a treasured penpal in your mailbox!"
- Maria AKA Mail Wonder Woman (USA)

And you... Why do YOU penpal?!

And the winners are...

Since the League of Extraordinary Penpals is a growing community, we thought it was time to have our own awards ceremony!

Does everyone have a seat? Are all members dressed appropriately for the occasion? Are you all wearing your superhero costume? (Courtney, please put your pants back on.) Alright, the show can now begin.

Hello LEPers & LEPeeps! I'm Julie AKA Super Sushi and I'll be your hostess tonight. All of you are obviously extraordinary so we wish we could give you all an award, but sadly we only had time to make 25 prizes. Come on guys, they're handmade paper statues - give us a break! And if you win, you get to make a speech in the comments below, but in 50 words or less please. We don't want to spend all night listening to endless blabber because some of us have a Stationery Anonymous meeting to attend later on.

So without further ado, here are the award categories:

* Will squee when excited about something! And the award goes to... Frida in Norway! (Special mentions go to Othella and Michael in the USA.)

* Makes everyone jealous with perfect fountain pen calligraphy! And the award goes to... Lisa in France! (A special mention goes to Aimee in the USA.)

* Is well versed in swearing! And the award goes to... Cheryl in Scotland! (Special mentions go to Samantha in Australia, Jim in the UK and Venus in Canada.)

* Has a sexy voice and knows how to use it! And the award goes to... Simon in Japan! (Special mentions go to Rhiannon in the UK and Katherine in the USA.)

* Won't shut up about (and post pictures of) stationery purchases! And the award goes to... Sara Jean in the USA! (Special mentions go to Samantha and Amy in Australia as well as Shelby in the USA.)

* Sends goodies to everyone through the mail like it's Christmas every day! And the award goes to... Athanasia in Greece! (Special mentions go to Denise, Kimmie and Mary in the USA.)

*Lives in a fantasy world filled with strange creatures and characters! And the award goes to... Michi in Poland! (Special mentions go to EmPress in Canada and Sarah in the USA.)

* Says the word BOOBIES at every given occasion! And the award goes to... Courtney in the USA! (Special mentions go to Trine Lise in Norway and Lisa in France.)

*All have the same name! And the awards go to Jennifer G. in Canada, Jennifer E. in Germany, Jennifer W. in Germany, Jennifer R. in the USA and Jennifer W. in the USA! (Special mention goes to Jenn L. in the USA.)

* Have more kids than they know what to do with... And the awards go to Sherri and April-Alina in the USA! (Special mentions go to Jessica N. and Elizabeth D. in the USA as well as Samantha in Australia.)

* Makes you laugh with completely unexpected comments! And the award goes to... Jemima in Australia! (Special mentions go to Courtney in the USA, Yoshi in Austria and Lisa in France.)

* Gets to be kissed by Donnie Wahlberg ON THE LIPS! And the award goes to... Cindy in Canada! (Special mentions go to no one because Cindy apparently doesn't share!)

* Makes everyone drool by posting food pictures! And the award goes to... Jonathan in the UK! (Special mentions go to Sandra in the Netherlands and Shelby in the USA.)

* Makes envelopes like there's no tomorrow! And the award goes to... Tessa in the Netherlands! (Special mentions go to Sara Jean, Tara and Michael in the USA.)

* Were all born on the same day! And the awards go to... Karen and Emilie in the USA as well as Samantha in Australia for all being May 23 babies. (Special mentions go to our dozens of birthday twins.)

* Makes the most awesome illustrations! And the award goes to... Ciara Kay in the USA! (Special mentions go to Sulea in Australia, Michi in Poland, Korina in Guam and Heleen in the Netherlands.)

* Somehow infiltrates herself in LEP dreams! And the award goes to... Rhiannon in the UK! (Special mentions go to Katherine and Denise in the USA.)

* Has the most hilarious profile picture on Facebook! And the award goes to... Eunice in the UK! (Special mentions go to Lisa in the USA, Martina W. in Germany and Wendy in the USA.)

And that's it folks! (OK Frida, you can stop clapping now.) We hope you enjoy your paper statues (that's all we could afford - sorry!) and we hope to see you at the Stationery Anonymous meeting next door in 30 minutes. Amy will be selling overpriced stationery in the back alley after the meeting and she only accepts cash. Thank you very much!

Did someone say fountain pens?!

This week we're pleased to have a guest post from LEP members Rachel & Arjen (AKA The Tooth Fairy and Lady Vengeance), the fantastic coordinators of the League of Extraordinary Pen Lovers!

Do you often walk around with ink stained hands? Have more pens than a person could use in a month? Can you identify the difference between a blue ink and a sllliiightly lighter blue ink? Then this club is for you!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the League of Extraordinary Pen Lovers! This is the home for all things pen and ink related. Feel free to share your pictures of your pens (or pen porn as we have been known to call it!), discuss new inks and share tips about where to get the latest pens! We are a small group but a very friendly one and our first swap is just starting out.

In order to tempt you into our lair, Arjen has offered to donate a pen from her collection to the winner of our new challenge! If you wish to be in with a chance of this rare prize then this is what you need to do:

Write a love letter to your favourite ink or pen, in the ink itself or with the pen that is the object of your affections. Post your letter on the Extraordinary Pen Lovers group and join in the fun.

We look forward to meeting you and enabling your pen collection!

Rachel & Arjen

The perks of being a LEP-flower

Is it just us or does it seem as though there are a lot of penpal clubs popping up these days? This just means that more and more people are interested in letters and penpalling, which is awesome! Viva la snail mail, right? Each letter and postcard matters, especially when it unifies and connects people all over the world.

So, with all the penpal clubs out there, why be a member of the League of Extraordinary Penpals? What makes the League of Extraordinary Penpals unique?

The perks of a club with paid membership

Well, we may be biased here, but we think LEP is unique because it has the best group of snail mailers—bar none—on this planet. (Seriously, they're AWESOME.)

In addition, LEP is exclusive. We chose to make LEP a "club" in the traditional sense—membership fees and all—because we wanted LEP to be a closed-group of really passionate letter writers.

Ironically, LEP's exclusivity is why it's so inclusive; having a closed-group contributes to the open nature of the LEP group. Within the LEP community, members are supportive and inspirational and they don't have to worry about sharing private information about themselves—even their addresses—because they know that they're among friends.

The Internet is full of trolls—go on any free website and you'll find pages and pages of inane and complaining comments from people who happened to come across that page. There's none of that drama at LEP. Everyone there is happy to contribute, happy to share, and happy to support one another.

And why?

Well, because they're great. And also because they really want to be there and have such passion for snail mail. Do you remember being a kid and loving something so much that you paid money to be part of that thing's fanclub? Would you purchase membership to a club if you didn't love what that club represented? I mean, I joined the New Kids on the Block fanclub as a kid because I loved NKOTB and was going to marry Joey McIntyre (Super Sushi joined the Madonna fanclub, though she didn't intend to marry Madonna). I wouldn't have forked over my allowance back then if I wasn't a diehard NKOTB fan (unnecessary disclaimer: I never married Joey Mcintyre. The timing was just never right). Similarly, we really wanted members who loved snail mail as much as we do—and each of LEP's members more than qualifies. In fact, their passion for all things paper is a constant inspiration.

Why charge a membership?

Some people may believe that we choose to charge membership because we don't have passion for snail mail, that we're simply in it for the money. But I think the goal of any working adult is to love what they do for a living. Julie and I love snail mail. So much so that we want to do it as an occupation. It's misguided to think that people need to prove their passion and love for something by doing it for free. For example, are artists not passionate about art because they sell their paintings? Do singers not love singing if they get paid for it? No. People have bills to pay and obligations to meet and unfortunately, passion alone doesn't put food on the table. (In fact, if you take a look, many "free" websites and clubs accept donations/sponsors or charge for an "upgraded" membership, which is also another way to generate revenue. They likely do so because they also have associated costs that come with pursuing their passion and passion alone doesn't keep a roof over their heads.)

So yes, we do make some money from LEP. But the operative word there is some. Can we afford a house of 23 servants and gold statues of our likenesses? WE WISH! But sadly, no. In fact, we make considerably less per hour of work than the average minimum wage; but even if that wasn't the case, we don't think it's unreasonable to want to make a few dollars doing something we love to do. Everyone just wants to be paid for doing something that they love, don't they? I mean, if I got paid to drink tea, I'd be a MILLIONAIRE by now.

The not-so-perks of a club with paid membership

Unfortunately, the problem with setting LEP as a paid club is that members lose access to everything LEP offers when their membership lapses. This not only includes the newsletter, it also includes access to the Facebook Group and the LEP clubs.

We understand that some members like the newsletter and others only get value out of the Facebook Group. But like all clubs, you have to purchase the membership to get full access to everything. For example, gyms don't typically allow former members to hang out in the steam room once they stop paying their membership; similarly, it's unlikely that members are allowed to only pay 10% of the membership fee because they only use 10% of the services. Like other clubs, it's all or nothing.

However, we encourage members to share their comments if they have suggestions for improvement or don't like how things are done. LEP is a new project and we're trying to make LEP the best penpal club it can be and we're always looking for ways to improve. If you have constructive criticism, please share it with us! We would never ever kick any members out of the club simply for voicing their opinions or criticisms. You could even say things like our handwriting looks like chicken scratch, that we smell like pee, or that it looks like birds live in our hair. We wouldn't be overly pleased, but you're welcome to your opinion!

Sushi and the Squirrel may have started LEP, but the club is only as good as its members. We think we have the best members of any club anywhere and we're so appreciative that you've joined us on this snail mail adventure. We hope you all stick with us until the end because it's been a lot of fun so far, wouldn't you agree?!?

Come enter the LEP Reading Lair... if you dare!

This week we're pleased to have a guest post from LEP members Cassie & Anny (AKA Stargazer and Captain Bookworm), the fantastic coordinators of the LEP Reading Lair! Read on to get acquainted with our super club coordinators, learn the ins and outs of the ever-so-secretive reading lair, and discover the activities that are brewing within its walls.

This is your (second*) official invitation to the Reading Lair!
* First mentioned in the LEP Newsletter, April Issue

When you are in THE League of Extraordinary Penpals it's important to have a place to fit your hero's big egos... er... interests. That's why we have a Reading Lair with a HUGE library full of books and other necessary rooms where you can train, write letters, and anything else your super-human-extraordinary-selves might desire.

So how about a brief tour for the uninitiated or those lost in the stacks? (Be warned that all of this follows the very important secret code & “handshake”. Heroes must come *prepared!)
*League membership required.

Once you have been briefed and made “formal” introductions in the Foyer we get to the good stuff. Enter the Inner Sanctum; dear readers, this is your library. Here we discuss books we would like to read together and discuss those that we are reading. Check here for current swaps and WTAs (Winner Takes All) in the Mail Room. While there, be sure to post any upcoming mail calls, birthdays, etc. to the monthly Notice Board. Seek out the Training Room for games and challenges. Chitchat in the Lounge. And if you happen to enjoy other forms of writing (aside from letters) then curl up in the Writing Nook.

Now that you are all acquainted perhaps you would like to know what we have been up to! For April and May our book club picks were Little Women, Wuthering Heights, and Wool Omnibus. Post suggestions now for our next read-a-long!

Partners for the handcrafted bookmark swap will soon be assigned! Stay tuned... we will have a new swap up for June! Rachel Miller was April's WTA winner! She will receive a postcard with five book recommendations from everyone else who played.

Do you love zines or want to try making your own? We are putting together our first collaborative zine. There is still time to join in!

So let's see: new book picks coming, new swap... what else is in store for LEP members in the Reading Lair? As requested, we will have a Skype chat in *June!
*Date TBA

If you are the sort of LEPer who enjoys a challenge then stay tuned! In June we will reveal the first set of challenges, post a scoreboard in the Training Room, and award a prize in September!

Stay alert!
Stargazer and Captain Bookworm

Thanks ladies! So, what are you guys waiting for? Join the LEP Reading Lair and get reading!!

LEP sale!

We're having a huge sale here at LEP - 33% off all stationery sets (lined and unlined) until next Tuesday. Why a 33% discount? Because that's how old I (Super Sushi) am. And that should be a good enough reason.

Lined stationery

Every kit includes 25 sheets of writing paper that is fountain pen friendly. Each sheet is 5.25" x 8.25" or 135mm x 205mm (A5 size) and is thick enough for you to write on both sides if you wish to do so.

Every stationery order comes with a free membership card!

Unlined stationery

Every kit includes 25 sheets of writing paper that is fountain pen friendly. Each sheet is 5.25" x 8.25" or 135mm x 205mm (A5 size) and is thick enough for you to write on both sides if you wish to do so.

Every stationery order comes with a free membership card!

The sale only lasts until Tuesday, May 21 - so grab a set or two while you can!

Handwriting porn

Yes, some of us may have discussed pornography at length in the Facebook group, but this is not what this post is about!

I'm here to tell you all that I have a handwriting fetish. It's true, I like looking at pretty handwriting. And some of our LEP members have amazing handwriting, let me tell you!

So let's look at a few of them and fantasize together...

Do we have other handwriting perverts in the League of Extraordinary Penpals or am I the only one?!

Reporting from the planet Ziggy Stardust, it's Lady Stardust!

Hello My Fellow League Members! Lady Stardust here, with the scoop on how I make those super portraits you see in each and every LEP Monthly Meeting Newsletter... Sushi & Squirrel thought ya'll might find that interesting. ;) So I am here to divulge my super secrets!

STEP ONE: Identify & Analyze the Subject

This is one of the most fun parts of making super portraits of you guys! I get to read the Super Spotlight interviews ahead of time, which makes me feel uber special. Along with the interview I am sent some snapshots of the month's Spotlight subject for reference (very important, or else I'd just get to make up what you guys look like based on the answers to your interview questions... which would actually be pretty hilarious I think!). I like to glance at the photos before I read the interview so I can start imagining what your super-self might look like!

I can glean a lot of info just from that interview, and usually I end up reading it several times over during the process to get the portrait just right... I take notes in my sketchbook and decide on colors and weaponry and a super-pose as I go through the interview. I have contacted the Super Spotlight subject in the past to clarify if they fail to mention something like favorite colors in the interview, but usually it's pretty easy to figure out what you're all about after just a few questions!

STEP TWO: Super Name

I always start with writing the name in that fancy bubble font... I don't know why. It's easy & straightforward, probably, unlike Step Three.

STEP THREE: Mad Sketching & Erasing

Draw a line, erase, repeat is about the way it goes when I'm trying to draw you guys! If any of you have ever tried to draw a person from real life, or have tried to recreate a specific character, you know it's a challenge to get them to actually LOOK like themselves, haha! Mostly it just comes with practice. One year I drew 100 thumbnail (no bigger than an inch or two) pencil portraits of random people from stock photo sites, which REALLY helped my ability to capture a real person in cartoon form on paper. This step can be frustrating (but that's probably because it's the most important one, haha).

STEP FOUR: Digitize!

I always sketch with a pen & paper but LOVE my fabulous Wacom Tablet for comic-book style ink & color! Once I'm satisfied with the sketch I take a crappy photo of it, trace the lines in Photoshop, add color and that circle background thing, and voila! You have a super portrait!

And look, I made a fancy gif for you guys to see the step-by-step from sketch to finish, featuring this month's Super Spotlight, Taradactyl! :D

Stay super, ladies & gents,
Lady Stardust OUT!

NOTE: Lady Stardust also has an Etsy store, which contains awesome stationery for letters and cards for important dates like Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, and most importantly, UFO Alien Extraterrestrial Abductions Day. Don't be stuck without a card for UFO Day, and go buy something awesome right away!!

My mail please, Carson!

It's no secret that I love period dramas. I looooooooovveeee period dramas!

Part of it is because of the dashing men and the irresistible wooing. Who can argue with Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Rochester, or Mr. Moray?

The other part is the mail. Oh, the mail! Not only was mail written in beautiful script and sealed with wax seals, it was delivered on silver platters.

Take a moment to appreciate the sheer brilliance of that: MAIL. ON. SILVER. PLATTERS.

By someone who looked like this (though--I suspect--minus the Carson attitude):

Aaaaahhhhhhh, doesn't that sound divine?

Of course, if you know me at all or have been reading my posts for a while, none of this silver platter mail business is new. But, it got me thinking about how today's mail delivery could be be "spiced" up so that it was 2013's version of the silver platter. Here are some of my ideas:

- mail delivered by balloons: when you get a letter, you just pop the balloon and boom! There's your letter!
- mail delivered by actual snails. A little on the slow side, but literal snail mail might be fun!
- mail messages delivered by singing telegrams! ("la la la! This is just a message to let you know that I'm re-watching Empire Records for the millionth time. How are you? la la la!")
- goat delivery (in hindsight, this would probably be a disaster--the goats would keep eating the letters and nothing would be achieved)
- good, old fashioned pigeon post (mind the poop)
- attach notes to an arrow (sorry guys, I can't be penfriends with anyone who doesn't live in the same house as me. My arrows don't go further than 6 inches....)
- message in a bottle
- really, really, really, really, really long tin can phone

Now it's your turn: what would be a really unique way of receiving mail? How else could mail be delivered other than the regular in-a-mailbox method? C'mon LEP members, you're extraordinary! Now we want to hear your extraordinary ideas for brilliant and fun mail delivery.

April LEP Challenge

We know that books and letter writing can go hand-in-hand, so the April LEP challenge was to write a letter to any fictional character that you would love to be penfriends with.

And if the letters that resulted from the challenge are any indication, there are just so many cool fictional characters out there that would make wonderful penpals!

However, only at LEP would you find such an eclectic group of letter recipients. Hobbits, ghosts, fairy tale characters...! In the words of George Takei: "Oh Myyy!!" 

Here are some of our favourite April challenge letters from LEP's extraordinary members:

Venus, AKA Voracious V, wrote to the intrepid Hobbit who went There and Back Again. "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

GAH! Put us out of our misery Voracious V! What does go around the world but stays in a corner?

Ann-Marie, AKA Ninny Numbskull, wrote to Marissa Falco's Parcel Ghost

Click here to see more photos of this awesome spooooky letter!

Eva, AKA Hawwa, wrote to Little Red Riding Hood!! She also gets 4,000 bonus points for using matching stationery!

Click here to read Eva's way-too-cute letter to Red Riding Hood.

Also, Eva has an important request for LEP members: please contact her if you know the postal address for Little Red Riding Hood.

On that note, if anyone knows the postal addresses of Raylan Givens, John Thornton, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jackson Brodie, or Jo March, please let me know!

GREAT work, superheroes!

It's your time to shine!

This week, we decided to let some of our extraordinary LEP members do the talking for a change! Here's what they had to say...

Katherine AKA Wonder Kitty in the USA
The League of Extraordinary Penpals is the greatest thing since spandex onesies! I’ve been a member since day one, and each month I look forward to the amazing newsletters chock full of unique challenges, cool projects and articles that keep letter writing fun and fresh. It’s a really great feeling to be a part of a group of wonderful Supers who take time from their lives battling crime and defeating evil-doers across the world to write to one another and share their lives. The Facebook page is fantastic! I’m honored to be included under the same marquee as these other stupendous writers, crafters, mail art makers, and delightful people. It feels great to be with people who are so open and welcoming – you never feel out of place or strange for your hobbies and interests. Everyone has been so kind and so genuine – something the world seems to lack at times. I’ll shout it across the ‘verse! The League of Extraordinary Penpals is simply the best group of people I’ve met in a long time. It’s wonderful just to be a part of this League, and I look forward to many years of new pals and new surprises. Onward!

Frida AKA Twisted River in the Netherlands
When I first heard about LEP I had to run a few laps around the living room table because I had no other way of expressing my joy without screaming too loud. Thanks to that this wonderful Flying Dutchman a.k.a my boyfriend, bought me a year subscription as a surprise! And with full intent on trying to be cheesy, it truly was one of the best surprises someone has ever surprised me with. This is my fourth month as a member and I never want to leave! LEP has so many wonderful people hiding in its headquarters and there is never too much crazy, never too much kindness, so much nicety and just an overall great place to hang out! It is just so great to see that there is a place where everything wacky, weird and funky fits right in and then melts down into this lovely mash of awesome! Superherosalutes and supermany thanks to Super Sushi and Super Squirrel!

Denise AKA Hot-Z in the USA

I joined the LEP with zero expectation, I was new to the world of pen-paling. I have been blown away by the sense of community and friendship this group has offered. I have received so much fun mail, and I’ve participated in lots of fun swaps. I truly believe that the superheroes of the LEP are friends that I’ll carry with me the rest of my life.

Jennifer AKA Indigo in Germany
“League of Extraordinary Penpals”, now my first thought on it has been: “Wow, pen palling is great, but what does make an extraordinary penpal so very extraordinary that it needs to get mentioned in this name? Will I ever be good enough to just join the league?” I decided to give it a go and it pulled me into a stream, which dragged me out of my former world and threw me straight into a new world. Granted, this world is way more colorful with all its washi-loving and creative mail art-heroes. So, why should one become a penpal superhero? Because everyone can fight the biggest villain from the capital of Boredom: an empty mailbox. And it’s so easy to do it. You just have to have fun in order to make this villain wave a white flag. What do those penpals in the LEP make so extraordinary? It’s not that we share the love for sending and receiving mail. This is something every penpal does. It’s much more of the love and care shared in this community. I’ve been able to meet a lot of great people thanks to LEP. It’s so easy to make friends in here, because there’s a common interest all members share: pen palling. But the love and care showed among those members makes the league such a great company to hang out with. Share your interests, get feedback on what you do, become encouraged by others; help your new friends… No one’s left alone in the league, unless he or she decides to be (and even in that case it’s very possible someone will worry and care for you). What is another great point about the league? It’s international. No matter what color you prefer to get your washi tape printed or which colors you like your pens to write in – the LEP doesn’t discriminate. L to the E to the P - that is just the place to be.

Britty Luna AKA The Lunatik in the USA

LEP has seriously changed my life. No joke. It's a wonderful group of people who are with you in spirit, and in post! We have a busy Facebook group. And a GoodReads group too. A Pen Pal Book club! And there are other things inside the group, for photographers and people who love pens. I don't know what I would do without these guys, seriously. They are so nice, and so caring. And I have learned a lot from them. And this group has gotten my creative juice going. Plus, the mail is good too. Haha. Join LEP. You will not regret it!

Stéphanie AKA Nimble Fingers in France

I'm the kind of woman who usually sits and watches in groups. I don't like to put myself on the line but I feel comfortable within the LEP. I like the spirit of it, it's fun and challenging AND I can finally share that part of my life with my husband! If I only had to say one thing about the LEP, it's that it's not the average penpal club. It's more than that. It's a community of people who like to have fun together and experience new things. I mean, the worldwide movie night (well, night for me lol)? Awesome! I can't wait to see what Julie and Laura will come up with next!

Jonathan AKA Big Yawn Hippo in the UK

Like the Madonna song I was like a virgin (Pen Pal Writer) for the very first time! Until I discovered the amazing group LEP. I recommend joining LEP for any person who is new to the world of pen palling as you will have access to a huge resource of pen palling knowledge via the LEP members who took me under their wing and guided me on a path to be a pen palling guru!

Sara Jean AKA Squishy Owl in the USA
I jumped on the LEP bandwagon pretty quickly. I have been a follower of both Julie's and Laura's blogs for quite some time! So when they announced that they were not only starting a pen pal community but a super hero themed one I thought to myself "this is some kind of awesomesauce genius-ness" and I had to join in on all of the fun. I have met Super pen pals in the League who will not only squeal with you over a full mail box and encourage your hoarding of all things crafty (including offering to share their own beloved stash) but FRIENDS who will also cheer you up when you are down or having a sad mail day and answer your call when extra birthday mail to a loved one is requested. This group has been more fun than I can convey in such a short little amount of space and I don't wanna sound any more sappy than I already do. The LEP rocks! There, that sounded more Super Hero-esque...

Sandra AKA Super Sandy in the Netherlands

I've never thought LEP would be so much fun! The newsletters are always great to read and full of fun stuff! I loved the book and movie suggestions in the latest newsletter!!! :) The Facebook group is a wonderful and almost necessary addition! It's a great place to meet fellow snail mail lovers, to share ideas, photos, even videos! I haven't participated in any of the swaps yet, due to lack of time/energy... but from what I've seen... the swaps are amazing! I'm glad that I signed up for a year! 

Lisa AKA Super Purple Pal in the USA

I'm a life-long pen paller here, so I know my stuff, LEP is the best place to find a group of people who are passionate about the art of letter writing and anything mail related! I'm having so much fun, joining swaps, making friends and laughing! Well worth the investment because the return is priceless!!

Rena AKA Dark Flower Power in Germany

Being a superhero isn’t easy. And finding mates is even harder. You can’t just walk up to someone and say "I noticed you have the habit of sudden disappearance, so do I. Are you by any chance a fellow superhero?" It might be the contrary and you got yourself in trouble. LEP does really help with that. You have something in common immediately. And usually even more then being a superhero, like snail-mail - easy to find at LEP, too.

Rachel AKA The Tooth Fairy in the UK

I've always enjoyed reading Julie's blog and when she announced that she and Laura were setting up an exclusive penpal club I knew I wanted to support the enterprise. Wow. Am I glad I did. Not only have I helped support the club from the start but I've made a group of amazing new friends. I've also been able to indulge my love of fountain pens further with my dear friend Arjen in the Fountain Pen group. The Facebook group has made me smile and laugh out loud every day. Where else can you look at people's paper shopping trips, see everyone's mail calls and, through these new friendships, see two people discussing mailing a chicken?? So thank you Julie, thank you Laura and THANK YOU to all the LEP members!

Athanasia AKA Tiny in Greece

I've been pen paling since my teenage years, it started off as a hobby but in time it became part of my reality as I've made friends that stuck in my life for years to come. When I came by the LEP announcement on Julie's blog I have to admit I was more curious than anything else and decided to take part in this project. 3 months later I have to say that I am happy to be part of this little community of people who, like me, love mail, anticipate the mailman, get excited to enter a stationery store and get creative when seeing colors, tapes and paper of all shorts. I enjoy our daily interaction on the Facebook group and even though we might not all know each other, once we say we are a LEP member we're part of the family… yup we are the penpaling mob :D In a few words, we are all so diverse, yet much alike, we're a small part of the world in one group… yet we make our own friendly little world.


Thank you guys for coming on the ride with us!